Friday, Mar 12, 2004
Though Steve Jobs was adament that PDAs weren't Apple's forte when he axed the Newton group just weeks before they spun off, there are now signs that the winds may have changed at Infinite Loop.
Following the success of the iPod, the slow PDA-ification of the product (adding contacts, memos, and calendar functions via iSync), and the potential for a rich-media player on the horizon, convergence seems to be leading Apple to a destination Steve didn't anticipate five years ago.
Consider Palm's announcement that their forthcoming Palm 6.0 OS won't come with Mac integration, and that since the PDA race narrowed to Palm and PocketPC, innovation has slowed drastically in the PDA realm, focused mostly on the wireless aspects of these devices.
As PDAs move down both wireless and rich multimedia paths, they come closer and closer to Apple's core competencies, and an 'everything handheld' with iPod, video, wireless (wi-fi and/or cell), and PIM integration could be exactly the kind of product Steve Jobs loves: a product that completely redefines an already established market.
There's been a lot of speculation in recent months about all of the above, fueled by Apple job postings for people proficient in mobile video delivery systems, as well as rumors of an 'iBox' mega-TiVo that would serve as the 'new digital hub', of which a rich-media device would be a natural spoke.
New promise comes today in the form of a survey being passed around by Stone Multimedia asking for opinions as to why the Newton failed, and gauging interest in a revised Newton. There's also a related discussion at MacRumors. This might seem like idle research, except that the company responsible for Newton's branding and marketing a decade ago was also called "Stone." Sadly I can't find that company's full name, so I can't verify that they're the same, but it's intriguing nonetheless.
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